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Movie Friday: Surviving ex-gay ministries

A commenter asked yesterday what was wrong with so-called “ex-gay ministries”. For those of you that don’t know, these are programs that are set up to ‘re-train’ homosexual men and women, to convince them that their sexual orientation is either a weakness of the mind, or the influence of Satan, or both. Words cannot express how contemptuous I am of the rank and foul arrogance required to tell someone that their sexual identity is evil. Then again, this kind of moralizing arrogance comes naturally when one considers oneself a direct emissary of the creator of the universe.

Ex-gay ministries are founded on the lie that sexual orientation is a choice, and that accepting Jesus will cleanse you of the sin of being “abnormal”. Of course, accepting Jesus is entirely orthogonal to being gay – there are many gay Christians (a fact that baffles me, but then again there are black Christians and female Christians too, so humanity clearly has a blind spot for its own hypocrisy). However, desperate people who have been convinced that they are disordered due to a lack of faith will grasp at all kinds of desperate straws to regain YahwAlladdha’s favour. They will completely abandon their rationality, frantic to prove their worth in their invisible tyrant’s eyes. And what does the religious establishment do with desperate people?

It fucks them:

Yep, it’s pretty much exactly as you’d expect. Jayden was molested by someone claiming to be able to ‘fix’ his homosexuality. The problem with this mindset is that it’s built on a series of falsehoods. First, it claims that homosexuality is evil or ‘unnatural’ – in that homosexuality in and of itself is no more harmful to people than heterosexuality, and we see examples of homosexuality often in the natural world, this first claim is a lie. Second, these ministries claim that one can simply ‘reprogram’ gay men by introducing them to ‘manly’ activities – I guess the number of gay men in the Marines and other Armed Forces just aren’t manly enough…

 

Hmm... okay maybe they have a point

The third and final lie that makes up the foundation of “ex-gay” ministries is that accepting Jesus will cure you of your homosexuality. This is the cop-out lie that all religious faith enjoys – if it fails, you can blame the victim because their faith “wasn’t strong enough”. No matter what happens, their asses are covered – if they appear to succeed then it’s because of the program, and if they fail it’s because of the individual in the program. Imagine if we explained away government programs or modern medicine in this way.

Oh, and did I mention that when people are blamed for something they can’t control, and told that their feelings are evil, even though they’ve never hurt anybody… they sometimes hurt themselves?

Of course the commenter then asked me where I got the gall to force my morals on everyone, so maybe I should have just laughed it off. Some lies need to be confronted, exposed, and destroyed. Ex-gay ministries are among them.

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Comments

  1. Riptide says

    Thanks for posting these videos, Ian. My partner found the first one very compelling, and she says that much of what the man reveals is not exclusive to those Christians thought of as ‘gay’–she felt many similar tones of authoritarianism and ostracism in her strict Baptist schools and events growing up.

    Personally I find the second video more compelling, because not one of the people involved in the GOVERNMENT-FUNDED CHILD ABUSE had the decency to ask “What’s wrong with this boy being gay” in the first place. The mom seems defensive of her decision to this day (“Well, the EXPERTS said…”), and she’s still obviously not dealt with the fact that her overweening desire to write her son’s life story for him ruined his life.

    I never understood why people want to have children if they just want those children to tell the same story that’s been told over and over.

  2. grassrute says

    Apparently asking for 5 minutes without cherry picking was asking too much. Trying to expel an evil spirit to “re-train” homosexuality is ridiculous. I do still appreciate you pointing us to what NOT to do. What that child went through is horrific, may we all learn from it.
    To counter your cherry picking:
    http://exodusinternational.org/
    And a video:

    The church is made up of sinful people. They are people who have recognized their sinful ways and chosen to live a life of repentance. Turning from sin is never easy, but is rather a life long battle. Everyone in the church has varying levels of struggle as they work to constrain the thorn they have. They also desire to assist others in constraining theirs. The desire and mandate of the church is to assist others in this way. You don’t have to like it; no one’s forcing you to take part.

    Those who wish to embrace their sin will obviously take a different approach. They will proudly identify with their behaviour and encourage others to do the same. They are free to do so. However, a member of a church who chooses to indulge in sinful behaviour rather than practice restraint will subject him/herself to the admonition of the church.

    I would like to point out a few errors in your article:
    “Ex-gay ministries are founded on the lie that sexual orientation is a choice” This is simply not true. Taking more than 5 minutes to research this will help you draw a more accurate conclusion. This is not to say there aren’t church members/organizations that take the simplistic approach that it’s a choice.

    “there are many gay Christians” There are many Christians that struggle with same-sex attraction. All Christians desire what they shouldn’t to one degree or another. Restraint needs to be put into practice.

    “It f***s them” This is a cherry picked generalization, but thanks anyways.

    “accepting Jesus will cure you of your homosexuality” This is not correct. Jesus will forgive all sin and help you overcome it. The thorn in the flesh, however, may never be removed.

    I don’t get a kick out of pointing out error, but some lies need to be confronted, exposed, and destroyed.

  3. Riptide says

    Grassrute, before you can be taken seriously on this issue, you need to answer a few questions. Why is homosexuality a sin in the first place? Why is “same-sex attraction” something that anyone *needs* to “struggle with”? And, precisely, how many words on homosexuality in the New Testament have been attributed to Jesus?

    Until you can answer at least those three honestly, you don’t have a seat at the table. You don’t get to apologize for organizations which actively ruin people’s lives for how they’re born (a matter about which they had no choice at all) supposedly in the image of a ‘loving God’. Until you can square the circle of holding creations accountable for the flaws of the supposed creator, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt. I’m sorry, your privileges as a religion on that score have been revoked.

  4. says

    Trying to expel an evil spirit to “re-train” homosexuality is ridiculous.

    Would you do me a favour and explain in detail exactly why you think this idea is ridiculous?

  5. grassrute says

    Riptide – I’d like to point out that the church is a large family. The family members assist each other in adhering to the Bible. It is not the churches place to impose this adherence on others. The church will, however, evangelize and call the world to repentance. My comments are the result of concerns that individuals who are outside the family may try to intervene in family affairs.

    Why is homosexuality a sin? Simply put, because God says so in the Bible. This doesn’t mean that sex is okay as long as it’s between two persons of the opposite sex. Absolutely every form of sex is considered sin except one; sex between a man and his wife. Jesus said “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery…”

    Why is “same-sex attraction” something that anyone *needs* to “struggle with?” I, myself, have many desires that I struggle with. Although I have overcome some of the desires, others are always tempting me. I will struggle with sinful desires till the day I die. It’s when I give up the struggle and indulge in the activities I desire that I am living in sin. Likewise, those who find themselves attracted to the same-sex, but practice restraint will struggle. (This may have even been the thorn in Paul’s flesh)

    “how many words on homosexuality in the New Testament have been attributed to Jesus?” This question assumes that God is divided. Jesus along with the Father and the Spirit comprise God. The Spirit speaks to the churches in both the old and new testaments regarding homosexual acts.

    I’m not requesting a seat at your table nor am I apologizing for anyone. In addition, I never said that people choose to be gay. I will, however, disagree that people are born gay; I believe it’s far more complex. Even in the second movie it can’t be concluded that the boy was gay. He liked playing with girl toys and likely related better with girls. Had he been left alone and had a good relationship with his father, who can say what would have happened?

    The Creator is not responsible for our desires. He created everything good but mankind chose his own way. We are therefore born sinful and naturally do what is wrong from birth. To live a God pleasing life is unnatural for all of us. And yes, this God loves His children and helps them overcome their sinful desires. I find it awesome that this God loves me despite my evil desires and helps me overcome sin. The invitation to join the family is open to all.

  6. grassrute says

    Crom – The Bible does speak about evil spirits. Being possessed led to lunacy, not same-sex attraction.

  7. Riptide says

    I’ll give you the benefit of taking this on piecemeal, much as it makes me want to bang my head into my keyboard.

    “Riptide – I’d like to point out that the church is a large family. The family members assist each other in adhering to the Bible. It is not the churches place to impose this adherence on others. The church will, however, evangelize and call the world to repentance. My comments are the result of concerns that individuals who are outside the family may try to intervene in family affairs.”

    And this is different from any other cult’s behaviour how, exactly? Last I checked, Jesus-heads didn’t exist in a vacuum–and coming into contact with other ways of living is the direct result of having a free society.

    “Why is homosexuality a sin? Simply put, because God says so in the Bible.”

    The evidence doesn’t bear that out. As well as we can figure, illiterate goatherds said so over generations and their descendents eventually wrote it down and attributed it to the bronze-age Hebrew war god. But you’re free to believe standing on your head in the rain is a sin for all I care. I will note, though, that you probably do eat pig and shellfish, you probably mix cotton fibers, you probably work on the Sabbath (and on Sunday, at least occasionally), you probably round the sides of your head, and otherwise engage without repentance in all manner of activities that your Hebrew war god has supposedly proscribed. Yet you single out faggotry as one of the very small number of rules against which it’s a sin to act. Interesting.

    “This doesn’t mean that sex is okay as long as it’s between two persons of the opposite sex. Absolutely every form of sex is considered sin except one; sex between a man and his wife.”

    And you’ll have to show me some evidence of why this should be the case, besides the attributed favour of a provincial blood-thirsty sky-monger.

    ” Jesus said “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery…””

    Ah, and here we come to the crux of the argument against marriage equality; for if they marry, they are (arguably, at least) not living in sin, and we couldn’t have that. Got to make all those faggots burn, right?

    Sorry, rute-boy. You’re going to have to do better than ‘My mystical unicorn-riding triskele deity, who created the entire 14-billion-lightyear-wide Universe with its billions of galaxies, each of which has billions of stars, cares what one species, on one planet, sticks in its butt.’ Merely stating the thesis more loudly does absolutely nothing to support it.

    “Why is “same-sex attraction” something that anyone *needs* to “struggle with?” I, myself, have many desires that I struggle with. Although I have overcome some of the desires, others are always tempting me. I will struggle with sinful desires till the day I die. It’s when I give up the struggle and indulge in the activities I desire that I am living in sin. Likewise, those who find themselves attracted to the same-sex, but practice restraint will struggle. (This may have even been the thorn in Paul’s flesh)”

    This is not an answer, and indeed is not borne out by the gay Christians I’ve known (and known of)–not ‘Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction’, but Christians who fuck others of the same sex on a regular basis and don’t struggle to resist their nature. But again, if you wish to obsequiously scrape to the petty whims of a tyrant, you’re perfectly free to do so as long as you do not attempt to impose the whims of this narcissistic overlord on the rest of us by the instrument of law.

    ““how many words on homosexuality in the New Testament have been attributed to Jesus?” This question assumes that God is divided. Jesus along with the Father and the Spirit comprise God. The Spirit speaks to the churches in both the old and new testaments regarding homosexual acts.”

    Isn’t that handy? Another dodge. ‘Jesus didn’t say a word’, you’re basically admitting, ‘butbutbut! Jesus is God is the Spirit, who did speak to Churches in both testaments!’ Ignoring the fact that the first authentically Christian Churches didn’t emerge until after the New Testament was written (at least 70 years after the supposed death of the fairy-tale creature we’ve come to call Jesus)–before this there were competing factions of people whose mythos wasn’t radically different from other Levantine prophets and god-heads around at that time, by the way–are you trying to say that Jesus’ words are insufficient and must be augmented by the rules laid down by countless generations of men who heard voices and came to the imminently reasonable conclusion that the Creator of the Universe was speaking directly to them? Again, on what evidence do you make this proposition?

    “I’m not requesting a seat at your table nor am I apologizing for anyone.”

    Then we should arrest Ian for holding a gun to your head and making you comment here, huh? And by posting the apologetical video and providing the commentary before and after it you were, indeed, apologizing (in the ‘apologetics’ sense) for ex-gay ministries. See, when you make a claim that I can refute, I can go to the evidence at hand–in this case, your own words and actions. And while I would like it if you could extend me the same courtesy, I’ve come to expect otherwise from Jesus-heads, so you’re not surprising or upsetting me.

    “In addition, I never said that people choose to be gay. I will, however, disagree that people are born gay; I believe it’s far more complex.”

    There’s that ‘I believe…’ again. But if people DON’T choose to be gay, if it’s intrinsic in who they are somehow (and in my personal experience there are some homosexuals for whom this is not true and most others for whom it is), you have all the work ahead of you of justifying why it’s an aspect of ourselves which ought to be suppressed in favor of your simplistic model of 1-man-1-woman-for-life interaction. Marry an abusive asshole that beats you? Oops, can’t divorce him and remarry someone else you’ve grown to love–especially if they have lady-parts instead–that would piss off the horn-headed idol. Nope, instead of actually being happy and living a personally fulfilled life with someone (or indeed someones) you care deeply about, you must remain in abject misery because YahwAlladha loves you.

    That’s the logical conclusion of your (completely unevidenced) propositions, ruty-two-shoes. And yet you know divorcees who’ve become much happier since they met people more compatible with them, or even who’re just dating and having sex outside of wedlock. And you know married people who are miserable because they shouldn’t be together, and wouldn’t be together but for the patriarchic slave-holding mindset implicit in the Jesus-head Brotherhood.

    “The Creator is not responsible for our desires. He created everything good but mankind chose his own way. We are therefore born sinful and naturally do what is wrong from birth. To live a God pleasing life is unnatural for all of us.”

    Well, isn’t that convenient? Sky-Daddy made everything good, but He also made humans, who are intrinsically evil. That’s what we in the logic business call a contradiction. And if God knew what humans would do ahead of time, and yet He made them anyway, He does not get to punish us for being what we are…at least he can’t do that and still claim the mantle of benevolence, much less omnibenevolence. And what is God getting out of all of this, anyway? It seems like so much divine masturbation, when you look into it with any depth. Honestly, if your only raison d’etre is dancing to please Great Ju-Ju who’s already authored all of history front to back, how do you get up in the morning? If Armageddon is real, and the ultimate victory over Satan will destroy the world with or without your own personal conviction, what actual meaning can you derive from your life? Pleasing a psychotic space monkey that supposedly instilled in you the inability to please him, and who holds you responsible for that failing?

    “And yes, this God loves His children and helps them overcome their sinful desires. I find it awesome that this God loves me despite my evil desires and helps me overcome sin. The invitation to join the family is open to all.”

    I find it facile and trite that you’ve turned the grandiosity of the Universe into a petty power-game about who can enslave themselves most effectively to an unknown, indeed unknowable, cosmic bully whose characteristics conveniently reflect the values of whichever peoples happen to honour it and who seems to change through the ages as secular forces advance the cause of ethics and the boundaries of knowledge. Made sick and commanded to be well; that’s a fool’s game. You’re welcome to play it, as I said before, but don’t expect any special privileges or any respect for doing so.

    Personally, I believe that the Universe is far grander and more beautiful than any bronze-age legend could possibly hope to match. The sun’s brighter over here. I reject the power of the Holy Spirit here, now, and for all time, as I reject the power of any man-made deity. And I invite everyone to do the same.

  8. says

    Okay, so in your mind – demonic possession leading to mental illness = totally reasonable
    Demonic possession leading to homosexuality = ridiculous

    Is that a fair summation of your position?

  9. Curt says

    *applauds*
    I don’t normally approve of arguing with credulous, circle-of-reasoning loons but I really have to admit, I enjoyed this rather total and absolute deconstruction. The last two paragraphs are particularly poignant. Cheers! :D

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